Music Updates

Hispanic Heritage Month: From Jenni Rivera to Gustavo Cerati, 14 Latin Music Icons & Their Cultural Relevance Today

ANTONIO AGUILAR

Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, Antonio Aguilar was not only known for singing with mariachi. He often recorded songs with tamborazo — which is similar to banda — which originated in Aguilar’s native Zacatecas. His Antonio Aguilar Con Tambora albums are an homage to the style, featuring classics such as “Un Puño de Tierra,” “Por Una Mujer Casada” and “Lamberto Quintero.”

On the charts: Aguilar secured a top 20 with his second entry on Hot Latin Songs with “Por Ti No Voy a Llorar” in July 1964. Mis Número 1… Mis Tesoros earned Aguilar his highest charting title on Top Latin Albums, as the set peaked at No. 26 in Aug. 2015.

ARIEL CAMACHO

The Mexican singer-songwriter’s career was just starting when he died in a car accident, but Ariel Camacho, who placed all bets on traditional sierreño music, is cited as an inspiration to today’s hottest rising regional Mexican artists including Natanael Cano and Christian Nodal. He’s known for his corridos, including “El Karma” and his ultra-romantic track “Te Metiste”

On the charts: “Ya Lo Superé” earned Camacho his first and only entry on the Regional Mexican Airplay chart. The song peaked at No. 32 on the Step. 19-dated chart.

ARMANDO MANZANERO

Active until his death, Mexican singer-songwriter Armando Manzanero penned over 400 songs and was covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Andrea Bocelli. Born in Mérida, Yucatán in 1935, Manzanero began formal music studies at the local conservatory when he was eight. A pianist by training, he began working professionally as an accompanist when he was 16 years old, and at 22, landed a job for CBS Records in Mexico. The bolero singer boasted a recognizable voice whose songs transcended genres and nationalities for over six decades.. He was honored with the Billboard Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

On the charts: Manzanero received a 1971 Grammy nomination for song of the year for co-writing the instant standard “It’s Impossible,” which was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for Perry Como.

CAMILO SESTO

Kicking off his career in the 1960s, Camilo Sesto was one of the most iconic voices in Latin pop of the ‘70s and ‘80s. His romantic repertoire included songs about unconditional love, heartbreak, and meaningful life lessons that will forever transcend generations, such as “Vivir Así es Morir de Amor,” “Melina,” and more. The Spanish crooner passed away in September 2019 at the age of 72.

On the charts: Sesto secured his first and only No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs with “Amor Mío, Qué Me Has Hecho?” as the song climbed to the top of the chart in its sixth week and led the tally for nine weeks in November 1991. With Amor Libre Sesto secured his first and only No. 1 on Top Latin Albums, which ruled for three nonconsecutive weeks in Sept. 1988.

CELIA CRUZ

Celia Cruz’s legacy goes beyond her hefty catalogue of anthemic salsa songs such as “Quimbara” and “Guantanamera” — the Cuban artist was among the first Afro-Latin icons to embrace her Blackness. She’s inspired a new generation of Afro-Latina artists including Amara La Negra and ChocQuibTown’s Goyo. “Celia was proud of changing her hair and singing to her Blackness,” Goyo previously told Billboard. “Celia showed me that I didn’t have to change who I was, that I could be myself.”

On the charts: “Ríe Llora” earned Cruz her first No. 1 on Tropical Airplay as the song surged 29-1 in its fourth week in 2003. It led the tally for 11 weeks and became her longest charting title. Regalo del Alma earned the artist her first and only No. 1 on Top Latin Albums, which topped the list in its second week and ruled for three consecutive weeks in August 2003.

CELSO PIÑA

“El Rebelde del Acordeón,” the rebel of the accordion as Celso Piña was known, popularized the “cumbia rebajada,” a fusion of Mexican cumbia with norteño sounds, ska, hip-hop and reggae. Some of his timeless cumbia songs include “Cumbia Sobre El Río,” “La Colegiala” and “Cumbia Sampuesana.”

On the charts: With his album Barrio Bravo, Piña notched his first and only entry on the Tropical Albums chart. It debuted and peaked at No. 16 in September 2016.

GUSTAVO CERATI

Considered one of the most influential figures of Latin rock, Gustavo Cerati, the late frontman of Soda Stereo, is one of those artists whose music will always be timeless. The Argentine singer, who passed away on Sept. 4, 2014, after suffering a stroke and never waking up from a subsequent coma, continuously enchants fans with his voice and unparalleled guitar skills, as heard in classics such as “Luna Roja,” “Un Misil En Mi Placard,” and “En La Ciudad de la Furia.”

On the charts: Cerati claimed his first entry on the Latin Pop Airplay chart with the top 30 “Día Especial,” which peaked at No. 26 in 2006. Fuerza Natural earned him his only entry on Top Latin Albums, which bowed and peaked at No. 53 in September 2000.

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